Social services and defense in Thailand
Executive power

Thailand has an extensive network of public health facilities down to at least the district level, and an expansion of medical education has increased the number of doctors. The average life expectancy in Thailand (73.1 years as of 2009) is high by world standards. Basic medical care is heavily subsidized by the government. Medical services have been strained by the spread of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes the disease. The World Health Organization estimated that the number of HIV-infected people in Thailand was about 600,000 in 2007, with 236,000 new cases reported annually. The country’s AIDS-prevention campaign, launched in 1991, was among the first in Southeast Asia. Thailand does not have unemployment insurance, disability provisions, or retirement benefits.

Military service is compulsory for two years for all able-bodied men between the ages of 21 and 30. In 2006 the armed forces included an army of 190,000 members, a navy of 70,600, and an air force of 46,000. Beginning in the early 1990s, the proportion of GDP spent on the military was reduced substantially. In 2003 military expenditures totaled 1.3 percent of GDP.

Thailand joined the United Nations (UN) in 1946 and has been an active member of the organization. The country also belongs to a number of UN agencies, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Thailand is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which plays a central role in the country’s foreign policy. Thailand became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. Encarta
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